79-year-old Phoenixville man faces trial for sexual assault charges

JRC photo by John Strickler Donald Schnovel, right, arrives at his court hearing in Phoenixville on Thursday.

"You figured me out

I'm lost and I'm hopeless

Bleeding and broken - though I've never spoken

I come undone - in this mad season"

"Mad Season"

~ Matchbox 20 ~

Saints and sinners, as you may all know, the Lone Ranger had Silver, Knight Rider had KITT, and Roy Rogers had Trigger. Well, for the past two years, it's been yours truly and his trusty Thunderchicken. We've been tearing and tooling around this borough since I bought that red rustbucket for a mighty $600 warrior dollars.

As you may recall, I mentioned in the first column of this year that one of my resolutions would be to get myself a new vehicle and put the beloved Thunderchicken out to pasture. Well, that time has now come. You know it, and it's been a difficult pill to swallow.

I was hoping that four-wheeled wonderhorse would get me through this winter, or mostly January and February, and I'd start looking for its replacement. Now, that process has been expedited due to the fact that time hasn't been on the side of the Thunderchicken. I received the diagnosis from Mike, Gary and Kathy at Pejey's Auto Body in Phoenixville this past Wednesday afternoon. These fine folks have managed to fix and piece the Thunderchicken back together several times and have done a wonderful job. I can't thank them enough for all they've done for the car. I recommend them highly to everyone. However, this time all of their horses and men couldn't put the Thunderchicken back together again.

Granted, it's a 1985, and I can't think of anything I've had since then that's held up on its own without leaving me in the dust. It did leave me stranded on Route 113 on two occasions, but it wasn't like it did so on a whim. So now is the time to give the Thunderchicken a much-deserved break from hauling my giant carcass around the Tri-County area.

Right now, the Thunderchicken is on its farewell tour this week, as it'll either be a trade-in or disposed of by a car dealer. I would only hope that those who happen to see the Thunderchicken in its last days would give it a wave (and not of the middle finger), or simply a nod of respect. It's been through quite a bit, and very instrumental in some of the best newspaper coverage in this area. The name "Thunderchicken," deemed by my loving sister, is a fitting badge of honor that I, nor a host of others, will soon forget. I can only imagine what name will be given to the next justice-seeking jalopy I own.

Unfortunately, finding a suitable substitution has been quite exhausting. I don't have a lot of financial resources at my disposal, and I certainly don't have a group of real estate agents willing to give me a car as a tip. That scenario happened last week as a 22-year-old waitress in Houston, Texas received a silver Lancer as a tip, simply because she asked for one.

The group of agents were conducting a business dinner when one agent asked the waitress, "what would be the most special tip you could have?" to which she replied "I need a car." Lo and behold, the agents came through and delivered the vehicle to the stunned waitress. Who says good things like that don't happen to hard working people?

It'd be a good thing if I could locate a used vehicle that fits within my demoralized dividends. Something that'll get me from home to work, work to home, with the ability to keep up with emergency vehicles in a pinch, and maneuverable to avoid the local enforcement officials that roam in Southern Chester County. I'm certainly not in a position to undertake a car payment. My personal budget is maxed and taxed to the legal limit, so I prefer to pony up and drive away.

I've already looked at, gone over, kicked the tires of, squeezed in and out of, and flat out frustrated with at least eight vehicles in the past 24 hours. It's not like I'm the smallest person on the lot, with the ability to pop right into a vehicle and be able to whisk away. I have to make sure I'll be comfortable getting in and out, without much strain on the drivers seat. The vehicle must be "niece-friendly," meaning that my nieces won't be afraid to sit down in it without asking me a bunch of historical questions about said vehicle. Although a CD player would be awesome, a tape deck and AM/FM is sufficient. I don't think I'm asking for a whole lot in a car - just a whole lot of a car. It has to be dependable (like the Thunderchicken, at times), and have a touch of attitude (like yours truly). You won't find me in a Saturn (I have pants that fit me better), or anything smaller than a breadbox.

There are several vehicles that I still need to call about, and a huge thanks to some of my saints and sinners who've contacted me with possible leads on inexpensive transportation. Trust me, I've called every number that's been given, and every option has been explored. I would like to bid farewell to the Thunderchicken sometime today, and have her replacement ready for the weekend. So, my saints and sinners, if you know of anyone who has a used vehicle, biggie-sized, that is reasonably priced under $1,000, or possibly donated with the provision of eternal gratitude and appreciation, please contact me via my e-mail or by calling me at 610-933-8926, extension 626. Oh heck, I'll be a Temptation and sing "I ain't too proud to beg."

As for the Thunderchicken, we've logged a lot of time and traveled many a roads. It's been faithful to me more than some of my past relationships (and it doesn't ask where I've been at all night). I couldn't have asked for more from the Thunderchicken. Hopefully there will be someone who is either mechanically inclined, or envisions it as a reclamation project, that'll take good care of her. She's now another important part of my vast automobile history - and we certainly made a lot of it.

***

Until then, some final words of wisdom to "write-off" to - tomorrow is National Public Sleeping Day. Guess everyone knows what I'll be doing for part of the day. I'll be celebrating ... with my eyes closed.

****

Dennis J. Wright can be reached at dwright@phoenixvillenews.com.

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